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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Apr 12;102(15):5477-82. Epub 2005 Mar 30.

Transcriptome analysis of the aphid bacteriocyte, the symbiotic host cell that harbors an endocellular mutualistic bacterium, Buchnera.

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  • 1Environmental Molecular Biology Laboratory and Genome Science Laboratory, RIKEN, 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako, Saitama 351-0198, Japan. bachi@postman.riken.jp


Aphids possess bacteriocytes, cells specifically differentiated to harbor obligatory mutualistic bacteria of the genus Buchnera, which have lost many genes that are essential for common bacterial functions. To understand the host's role in maintaining the symbiotic relationship, bacteriocytes were isolated from the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, and the host transcriptome was investigated by using EST analysis and real-time quantitative RT-PCR. A number of genes were highly expressed specifically in the bacteriocyte, including (i) genes for amino acid metabolism, including those for biosynthesis of amino acids that Buchnera cannot produce, and those for utilization of amino acids that Buchnera can synthesize; (ii) genes related to transport, including genes for mitochondrial transporters and a gene encoding Rab, a G protein that regulates vesicular transport; and (iii) genes for putative lysozymes that degrade bacterial cell walls. Significant up-regulation of i clearly indicated that the bacteriocyte is involved in the exchange of amino acids between the host aphid and Buchnera, the key metabolic process in the symbiotic system. Conspicuously high expression of ii and iii shed light on previously unknown aspects of the host-Buchnera interactions in the symbiotic system.

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